The True Cost of Tile Installation and Labor


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So much of our homes are covered in tiles: our bathrooms, kitchens, and in some cases, living areas such as the dining room, mudroom, or entryway. And it’s for good reason: they are durable and easy to keep clean, so they are popular, especially in wet areas.

Like many other aspects in our homes, tiles are available in different colors, sizes, finishes, and materials. That’s good news for homeowners because this gives them options regardless of their budget.

But while you may have factored the cost per square foot of tiles in your renovation budget, how much actually goes into labor costs?

The cost of Tiles

The cost of different tiles can vary greatly, and it will largely depend on what you want and what you can afford. Expect to pay anything from a few dollars per square foot at the lower end and several hundreds of dollars per square foot for high-end tiles. Some of the most popular types of tiles include:

  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain
  • Marble
  • Encaustic cement
  • Natural stone
  • Slate
  • Travertine
  • Quartzite

Removing existing tiles

Installing tiles is one thing, but if you need to remove the existing surface first, you will need to factor this into your budget. You can do this yourself if you are familiar with demo work, but if you plan on getting the tiler to do this for you, you can expect to pay from about $1.50 to $5.00 per square foot. This may not include carting the debris away, so when you do ask for a quote to remove existing tiles, make sure you also ask about removing them from your property as well.

Installing new tiles

Many factors go into a quote for installing new tiles. In essence, the easier the installation, the less it costs. The cost will also depend on where the tiles are being installed and whether or not there is a pattern that needs to be matched.

Expect to pay the following:

  • Floor tiles: $10 to $15 per sq. ft.
  • Bathroom/shower walls: $7 to $25 per sq. ft.
  • Backsplashes in the kitchen: $23 to $35 per sq. ft.

Of course, these costs can vary depending on other factors, such as where you live. For example, you could expect to pay several more dollars for installing tiles in a New York apartment compared to a similar one in Los Angeles.

Other costs

Tiling is so much more involved than just laying them all down in a nice neat row. Many people insist on adding decorative borders or creating mosaic features, which can add to your installation costs.

It is also worth considering sealing your newly laid tiles. This will protect the grout from absorbing dirt and moisture and make cleaning and maintenance easier. If you have chosen porous tiles such as natural stone or marble, sealing them will ensure they look beautiful for many years to come as this will protect the surface from absorbing dirt and other substances. The cost of sealing tiles ranges from about $150 to $300, but this also depends on the area to be sealed.

Labor costs can make up a sizable portion of your tiling budget, and like the tiles themselves, you can have good ones and not-so-good ones. Keep in mind that you get what you paid for, so shop around and find a tiler that is within your budget and has a track record of producing good quality work. When in doubt, it’s always helpful to ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.

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